Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_975



Although definitions may vary across the theoretical and methodological approaches, the term personality generally refers to stable patterns in how people think, act, and feel that make them unique.


The study of personality has been guided by two major themes: (a) the study of individual dimensions along which people differ (i.e., nomothetic approaches) and (b) the study of individuals as unique and integrated people (i.e., idiographic approaches). Diverse theoretical and methodological approaches that have guided research in these two major domains have also contributed to controversies that have waxed and waned throughout the history of this discipline. In addition, research focused on explicating the relative role of the person versus the situation, as well as biology versus environment has been central to this area of psychology; however, in recent years, the focus on such false dichotomies has...

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References and Readings

  1. Barenbaum, N. B., & Winter, D. G. (2009). History of modern personality theory and research. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 3–28). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  2. McCrae, R. R., & John, O. P. (1992). An introduction to the five-factor model and its applications. Journal of Research in Personality, 60, 175–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Pincus, A. L., & Ansell, E. B. (2003). Interpersonal theory of personality. In T. Millon & M. Lerner (Eds.), Comprehensive handbook of psychology (Personality and social psychology, Vol. 5, pp. 209–229). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  4. Williams, P. G., Smith, T. W., & Cribbet, M. R. (2008). Personality and health: Current evidence, potential mechanisms, and future directions. In G. J. Boyle, G. Matthews, & D. H. Saklofske (Eds.), Personality theory and assessment (Vol. 1, pp. 635–658). Thousands Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA